Post news Report content RSS feed I hate “free to play”.

Ok, that headline it a bit overly inflammatory. While I am sceptical of the free to play trend, what I hate is the wording “free to play”.

Posted by Kizzycocoa on Oct 24th, 2011

Ok, that headline it a bit overly inflammatory. While I am sceptical of the free to play trend, what I hate is the wording “free to play”.

The reason some people are moving to this area is that free to play showed up in the “social gaming” segment (Facebook) and made a few people (Zynga) very rich. It's been tried in other genres in other markets with decent success. By “success”, I mean “it's profitable”. The reason anyone switches to “free to play” is to make more money. You get your players hooked on your game, and then you try to monetize them. The idea is to find a model where there basically is no cap on how much the player can spend, then try to encourage players to spend more and more money. Various psychological traps like abusing the sense of sunk costs get exploited, and eventually you end up with a game that's designed more like a slot machine than half-life 2.

So instead of calling it “free to play”, we should call it “as expensive as you want it to be” or something.

I do not mind paying for games after the purchase. I like customizing my character, or getting a few extra levels (DX HR:Missing Link, woo!), or even paying a subscription cost for something with running costs.

But let's get one thing clear: people who think “free to play” is a great future are mostly game developers, not game players.

I'll go play some team fortress 2 now until DOTA 2 is released. I can't wait!! =D

(Development blog link)

Post comment Comments
LeonSeie Oct 24 2011 says:

Interesting viewpoint, while it is true, most players i know don't quite take it that way (only buy things on sale, if anything at all). although, that might just be because i hang out with a bunch of cheapskates, but i don't know.

+6 votes     reply to comment
TheLeadHead Oct 24 2011 replied:

Interesting viewpoint? It doesn't take a genious to figure that out. Games like Battlefield P4F is actually one huge ******** - I have played with paid weapons and have played with stock weapons, and paid weapons are a HUGE overkill. This is not the case in TF2 however - you get EVERYTHING the same except trading and inventory size, everything else is absolutely ok. And yes, the 50 inventory slots is limiting, I could live without trading, but the 50 inventory slots is almost like nothing (I'm playing for about 3 weeks and I have found in total about 80 items (including achievement items)). In TF2 atleast you can craft unnecesary items.

+1 vote     reply to comment
LeonSeie Oct 24 2011 replied:

I meant Interesting as in more of an extreme way of putting it. while I don't agree, i don't disagree. thats more of what I'm trying to say.

+1 vote     reply to comment
EvilAngel Oct 24 2011 says:

I don't even buy **** from F2P lol, my mate got me some turbine points on LOTRO once but thats about it...

+3 votes     reply to comment
CaptainLagfail Oct 24 2011 says:

I think the problem he's trying to point out is the effect this has on the design of the game. FtP games generally provide very little sense of achievement if you don't purchase in game content.

Think of it like playing poker but being restricted to cards of the number 2 - 5, and not ever being allowed any higher cards until you pay.

The game is technically still winnable, but in no way is it as interesting or enjoyable, and you'll start to hate it after the second time a paying player beats your 4 of a kind with a straight or royal flush, a hand that is impossible for you to ever get.

It's the same crap as pulling game content for use as DLC, but rather than an after thought, it IS the game design.

Also most of these FtP games are marketed at young American children. In other words people with access to a credit card and no concept of the value of money. It's a dangerous scam being pushed as a valid business model.

+9 votes     reply to comment
TrashCan-Man23 Oct 24 2011 says:

First thing that comes to mind is TF2 and that Mann Co. Store. People wasting money on cosmetic items. Sickening.

+2 votes     reply to comment
Dr.Goupyl Oct 24 2011 replied:

Yeah and tf2 is now a business, even players make money on items they buy...
They buy a key for 2.50 € and sold the unusual they get for 20 €.
That's pretty mad some people buy it...

+4 votes     reply to comment
Smoth Oct 24 2011 replied:

Deal with it. People like what you don't like

I called this years ago with mmo games I bet most of you played or still play them.

+3 votes     reply to comment
Dotdroid Oct 24 2011 says:

Same here I am not going to waste my money on some new characters or weapons, I love HoN and LoL I just play em' with what I have got given!

+1 vote     reply to comment
Slevo Oct 24 2011 replied:

hon was only recently free to play and i totaly agree with your post its very correct its like you play the game to be slammed by advertising about thier shop and the "sales" play hon and u will see every post is about thier shop and how they are giving stuff away cheap!!!! which is actually expensive considering it has no real value other then what the developers decide it should be sold for.

not only that but even people that paid 30 dollars for the game are still slammed by advertising and pay for early access hero, its all bullcrap and its sad that games these days are milked hardcore just for a couple of extra bucks what happened to releasing valuable content for fans you apprieciate for buying your game.

There should be some restrictions i mean a line needs to be drawn if dota 2 goes free to play it will be a sad move considering they will make you buy heros and crap of no value :(

+1 vote     reply to comment
Lone_Soldier Oct 24 2011 says:

I agree with you. "Free to play" is somewhat abused as term :-D

+3 votes     reply to comment
R3bornSh4dow Oct 24 2011 says:

BF Heroes and BF P4F were both good games in the closed/open beta. But when they started adding Battlefund content the games became totally unbalanced. In BF P4F you have to play a lot to be able to purchase a gun for 3 days, with Battlefunds you can have it permanent.

I'm not against the ingame shops, but they should give players the option to achieve stuff without having to spent shitloads of money.

+1 vote     reply to comment
nosfer4tu Oct 24 2011 says:

F2P in Team Fortress 2 ruined the game forever.

-2 votes     reply to comment
Flash112 Oct 24 2011 replied:


+1 vote     reply to comment
Captain-Arse Oct 24 2011 replied:

hey more whiny preteens playing a game i spent $30 on yay.... pfft makes me wonder why i bothered in the first place.

+4 votes     reply to comment
nosfer4tu Oct 25 2011 replied:

Oh. People who play tf2 f2p gave me minuses.

-2 votes     reply to comment
TeH_n00b_GaMeR Oct 24 2011 says:

i never spent more than 39 cents to a game that could be played for free, and that was team fortress 2. i put 50€ on my steam wallet, bought ****, and when i had 55 cents left i spent 39 to an item in the mann. co store in order to make my tf2 premium.

+2 votes     reply to comment
Azatoth027 Oct 24 2011 says:

True. This should be called "pay to pwn".

+5 votes     reply to comment
Mr-Gency Oct 24 2011 replied:

Bribing your way to victory.

+1 vote     reply to comment
Juffe Oct 24 2011 says:

Free to Play. Pay to Win.

+5 votes     reply to comment
LopperUK Oct 24 2011 says:

Free to Play isnt good cause you have to pay for things within the game instead, ive played FTP games and i am never interested in getting subscriptions or buying stuff with real money like TF2 which is retarded.

+1 vote     reply to comment
shortandpoor Oct 24 2011 says:

It's not misleading, it really is free to play. They aren't forcing you to buy anything in the game, if you want it then get it, if not then don't. I've played a few free to play games, but I don't stick with them long.

+4 votes     reply to comment
chulaksaviour Oct 24 2011 says:

I've always been against paying for things in games. I said to my friends years ago when microtrasactions started becoming popular that it would get worse. I especially hate it when Ive spent good money on what I think is a full blooded game and the realising as I play it that im gonna have to shell out again for 'additional content'
To Me FtP games are shameless scams aimed at those who a) have no money sense b) children c)'cheaters'
I say cheaters because of the feeling that it takes any sense of achievment away from me and that people who have invested heavily will always have an advantage (example: early days of battlestar online)

Tbh DLC costs etc have been the main reason for me not playing MMo's (However Im keeping an eye on The Old Republic).

+1 vote     reply to comment
Mr.Nuke Oct 24 2011 says:

This is so true. If a game makes itself free to play just to get more money its crap. I dont even start, except tf2 games that sell just hats and stuff to make money. Skill in a game shouldnt be judged by how much money you plug into the machine.

+1 vote     reply to comment
SolidFake Oct 24 2011 says:

Free to play is a great market idea.
It helps both, players and produces.
While players get frequent updates, new stuff to hold them on the game and sometimes even ongoing tournaments; producers get longtime members, extreme popularity cause it's played by both player fractions (free and pay) and still more than enough money.

What I hate though are Dlc's.
They are more than often heavily overpriced, often game supports stops after the company released one or two dlc's, and the worst, a game with dlc's often makes it it's users impossible to edit the game.
No modding, no mapping, not even adjusting graphical stuff.

I actually play only one "free to play", that is league of legends. They made the model perfect, by offering frequent patches and new stuff, but still keeping the pay stuff only visual, you can't get any gamebreaking stuff from putting money into the game.

And I agree that "free to play" is a totally wrong name, I play some free to play games too, like Warsow, but they are really free to play, you can't buy anything for the game itself there and they are community driven only.
"free or/and pay" or "basically free" would be much better terms for it.

+1 vote     reply to comment
Jeffman12 Oct 24 2011 says:

I've had a bad experience with F2P games in the past, and when I bought Global Agenda I was apprehensive when they announced their plan to make the game F2P. All in all, I ended up having more fun with the a higher amount of players. The developers stated a couple months back that Global Agenda is making 5 times the revenue it did when it started.

The way Global Agenda's free to play system works is a little different from the standard model, but all the important stuff is still there. Free players start at level 5 or 6 like everyone else, I forget which. They have access to all the other stuff "Elite Agents" have in game, except a post-mission reward drop. If the player decides they like Global Agenda enough to buy it, they pay a one time fee of $20(Might be 30, but you can get a discount coupon from any Elite Agent I think.)
And then if players feel like they need to level up faster and get more drops, they can buy "Boosters" which tripples experience from completing missions and gives you two items, the second is usually a higher value than the first. They also added a money store recently for people who want to waste money instead of time obtaining some ridiculous cosmetic loot.

All in all, I think that's an example of F2P done right. It doesn't completely fix the paying player's advantage over everyone else, but it's more balanced. And besides, the PvP operates in level tiers, so the newbies don't get plastered by the level 50 jerks.

+2 votes     reply to comment
Mr-Gency Oct 24 2011 says:

You seem to be upset about allegedly free games (

The concept of free to play is not bad. Developers just haven't found that balance between stuff you can get for free vs stuff you have to pay for. Extra Credits does a better job of talking about this better than I ever will.

+1 vote     reply to comment
SalesKital Oct 24 2011 replied:

Arenanet seems to have it done perfectly, people only really buy the game once, no subscription, and any consumable items are bought with in game money only, not rl money.

+1 vote     reply to comment
hagamablabla Oct 24 2011 replied:

IF bought items weren't so OP that sooner or later you need them to play, I would be fine with them.

+1 vote     reply to comment
SalesKital Oct 25 2011 replied:

You don't buy weapons for Arenanet stuff, it's just costumes that don't affect stats.

+1 vote     reply to comment
Kelazun Oct 24 2011 says:

I'd call those games - open acess.

+1 vote     reply to comment
SalesKital Oct 24 2011 says:

I'd rather have the one time pay Guild Wars than ANY game with a subscription

+1 vote     reply to comment
ghost_rider Oct 24 2011 says:

It just goes to show that anything you can get through hard work and practicing your skills....

You can also just buy.

+1 vote     reply to comment
Seaal Oct 24 2011 says:

Of Course you don't care buying stuff! You can millions of gold in your hands!

+1 vote     reply to comment
Copperhell Oct 29 2011 says:

Totally agreed with Notch; it doesn't matter when you don't want to win but in F2P you are rather stuck to creating miracles with a stick and a stone. I think DC Universe Online will be like this too. :/

+1 vote     reply to comment
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